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How your start-up can achieve paid search or PPC advertising success

This is how your small business could get a major return on investment from a pay-per-click advertising campaign

Sponsored by Verisign

As an early-stage small business you can build a very effective digital marketing strategy using the magic of search engine optimisation (SEO) and social media marketing savvy.

This organic method essentially wins ‘free-clicks’ for your business.

So why use paid search?

Yes, it costs, but the benefits provided by paid search or pay-per-click (PPC) advertising offer a powerful return on investment (ROI).

That said, as it is based on competitive bids, competing against a large business with masses of marketing spend can be difficult for a small business. A solid understanding of PPC is the best way to use it efficiently and effectively.

Below we look at how your business can use paid search to maximum advantage.

What is paid search and why use it?

Paid search encompasses a variety of terms including search engine marketing (SEM) and PPC and involves appearing within the sponsored listings, pride of place, at the top of a search engine results page (SERPS) such as Google.

Paid search is:

  • Quick and powerful
  • Highly measurable

If you’re not ranking at the top of SERPS then this could be due to a number of factors such as using a URL that isn’t SEO-friendly, you have more than one homepage, your website is slow at loading and so on.

MVF google search

What is PPC advertising?

PPC involves brands paying a small fee to the search engine every time someone clicks on one of their adverts.

One of the most common methods of PPC is to bid for ad placement in the sponsored links at the top of a search engine results page.

Google AdWords

Google AdWords is the most widely used online advertising platform in the world, helping millions of businesses find new customers and fuel growth.

How can you make paid search a success?

First off, you need a battle plan: what are you trying to achieve with your paid search campaign?

Set a goal. This could be:

  • Increasing revenue
  • Expanding your customer base
  • Increasing brand awareness

This will ensure your run an efficient campaign and can direct your resources appropriately.

Keyword research and bidding

Choosing the right keywords will determine whether your campaign is successful or not.

Use a keyword tool such as Google Keywords or SEMRush to research and identify different keywords you want to target. Keyword tools allow you to find and compare relevant keywords so you can see which have the highest-value search volume.

You need to think about what your customers will be searching for, what phrases they will be using and what keywords most closely align with your brand, product or service.

Eventually, you should have a comprehensive list of long-tail keywords (very specific three/four-word phrases) and head keywords (broad and with a high search volume).

You should also create a negative keyword list. These are keywords you don’t want to appear for. Including them in a negative keyword list means Google won’t waste budget on them.

You’ll then have to bid.

The more popular a search term, the more competitive and expensive it will be to appear for that keyword. Don’t waste time and money on overly-competitive keywords. Determine a reasonable budget and stick to it.

Create your ad copy

In this hyper-competitive space, you need to write compelling creative – aka ad copy – that’s going to make sure your brand stands out from rival advertisers. Do some research to find out how your competitors are advertising and incorporate your keyword research

Now write copy that makes your brand distinct and tells the consumer why you offer the best deal.

Include a call to action (CTA) that urges a searcher to click-through and fulfil the desired action.

Create a landing page

The landing page is the webpage consumers will arrive on when they click on your advert. This is where they will have the opportunity to complete whatever action you are trying to encourage.

Tailor the design of your landing page around your goal and make sure the layout is simple and intuitive – it should be obvious what next steps they need to take.

It can be tempting to create a landing page where the only option is to make a purchase or sign-up immediately. This hard-sell tactic can be off-putting to potential customers. Instead, provide a number of options that appeal to visitors who are at different stages of the buying cycle.

The copy should be compelling and offer more helpful information about what the consumer can expect from your product or service.

You should use your chosen keywords judiciously throughout the page.

And don’t forget to make sure your landing pages work on mobile! 67% of mobile users say they’re more likely to buy if a site is mobile-friendly.

Measuring your campaign

Tools such as Google Analytics allow you to monitor a variety of metrics to assess the success of your PPC campaign.

Whatever your goals are, this allows you to measure you ROI – the ratio of net profit to costs.

You can do this by measuring key metrics such as:

  • Impressions – this tells you how often your ad is appearing in search engine results. If you have too few impressions then your keyword list is probably too narrow. However, millions of impressions isn’t necessarily positive either. It could mean your keywords are too broad, meaning a lot of people outside your target audience are seeing (and ignoring) your ad. That’s a lot of wasted time and moneys…
  • Clicks/ Click-through rate (CTR) – this metric refers to how many people actually clicked on your ad. You can filter it by campaign, ad group or even individual keyword. This allows you to see what is working best and you can amend ads or change keywords where necessary
  • Conversions – this is how many people fulfilled a desired action such as making a purchase, signing up to something, visiting your landing page, filling out a form, or making a phone call.

Next steps for your paid search campaign

Paid search can be a hugely effective way to achieve business goals such as generating leads, boosting sales, and driving awareness.

Used in combination with well-executed SEO and other marketing efforts, a small business can receive a solid ROI on a small budget.

Comprehensive research and intelligent use of analytics to refine your campaigns will see you achieve paid search success.

This article is a part of the ‘Getting Online’ series sponsored by Verisign.

Henry Williams
Henry Williams

Henry has been writing for since 2015, covering everything from business finance and web builders to tax and red tape. He’s also contributed to many of our industry-renowned annual indexes, including Startups 100 and Young Guns, and created a number of the site’s popular how to guides. Before joining the team, he reviewed films for a culture website, and still harbours ambitions of being a screenwriter.